In 2021, online tutoring mostly consists of teachers video conferencing their lessons using webcams and other tools. While establishing visual and audio contact is significant in this situation; for many school subjects in the curriculum, more show and tell is required.
And that’s where pen tablets come in. If you need to work with your students on a math or physics problem or demonstrate something using visual cues like diagrams; you can use these devices with virtual whiteboards to achieve the desired effect.
Naturally, there are plenty of pen tablets available for online teachers and tutors today; though some are better suited for the task than others. In our opinion, some of the best are:
1) Wacom Intuos – Graphics Drawing Tablet – Best Entry-Level Choice
Our first pick here is the Wacom CTL4100 Intuos Graphics drawing tablet. If you’re looking for some of the best pen tablets for online teaching in 2020, this is definitely an entry-level model that will suit your purposes well.
First of all, it’s great for math and physics tutors because its surface is divided into equally distanced dots; meaning spatial orientation is much easier right from the beginning.
The accent on ease of use is also visible from the four programmable shortcut keys on the top of the tablet. Based on your needs, you can easily program the functions you need in specific software solutions onto the tablet shortcuts.
While the drawing tablet is definitely highly usable, these shortcuts are a double-edged sword. On the one hand, they do make some things easier to do; but on the other, they take up almost a quarter of the tablet’s surface.
- Well-divided space
- Shortcuts take up too much of the space
2) HUION H610PRO Pro V2 – Graphic Drawing Tablet – Most Lightweight Tablet
Up next, we’ve got the H610 Pro V2; another low-budget model that will do a good job for any online teaching purposes.
The first thing that separates this tablet from the rest is its practicality; it’s lightweight, so you can easily carry it around and use it anywhere you want on the go. Also, unlike the previous low-budget model that we’ve reviewed, it’s got more than a generous surface area for drawing.
The accent is on adaptability here, as the tablet allows for two different drawing modes: PC and phone. In the latter one, the drawing space is reduced to phone-friendly resolutions. This is great for students that follow their courses on phones instead of laptops.
Also, the shortcut buttons here are small enough to be used without taking up too much space. Unfortunately, the tablet isn’t compatible with iOS devices, which is a big downside in areas where most children use iPhones instead of Android smartphones.
– Unintrusive shortcuts
– Compatible with phones
– Not compatible with iOS phones or laptops.
3) XP-Pen – Ultra-thin Graphic Tablet
As you probably know as an online tutor, the peripherals needed to do the job comfortably and successfully may not be too expensive when viewed separately; but it can all add up to a hefty sum that you need to invest. That’s why we’ve presented a couple of options that let you save money, such as the XP-Pen G430S OSU Tablet.
This is pretty much the most affordable tablet on this list, it’s quite a bargain, going for as low as $20 in some online stores. And for that kind of price, it’s actually quite usable.
The most common problem with low-budget drawing tablets in this price range is their lag and sensitivity; many of them just aren’t responsive enough for detailed work. In this regard, the XP-Pen G430S does not disappoint. However, there are certain trade-offs that you’ll have to make in order to justify the low price.
The main issue is that the tablet doesn’t work out of the box with all laptops and computers. Especially on iOS devices, you will have to go to the trouble of downloading software and drivers from the manufacturer’s website manually.
– Quite a bargain
– Decent responsiveness
– Issues with drivers
4) One by Wacom – Graphic Drawing Tablet – Most Cost-Effective Option
In general, Wacom is known as a manufacturer of decent mid and low-range drawing tablets for beginner artists and other hobbyists; many of their products make their way on lists of the best pen tablets for online teaching in 2021 as well.
Compared to the first Intuos model that we’ve reviewed, One is a more affordable; but somewhat less high-quality option. Though, that’s not to say that it doesn’t perform admirably for your basic needs. The HDMI display works just fine, and the matte surface definitely works as a decent texture for constant use.
However, there are also some downsides to this model. First of all, it contains no physical hotkey buttons; making it less practical than some of its competitors in a similar price range. Also, the pen’s responsiveness leaves something to be desired.
– Extremely affordable
– Large drawing space
– Less responsive pen
– No shortcut keys
5) One by Wacom (DTC133W0A) – Digital Drawing Tablet – Most Tactile Tablet
We have to say that we don’t understand the logic Wacom went by while they were naming the models in this product range. The Wacom One digital drawing tablet is their most expensive offering; a flagship model, not to be confused with One by Wacom, tablet we’ve already reviewed above. The latter is a far more affordable, and thus lower-range model.
However, when it comes to the Wacom One, we have to say that it’s one of the best pen tablets for online teaching in 2021 available on the market. First of all, it works straight out of the box; you won’t need to fiddle around with any drivers on your own.
The matte finish of the One’s screen definitely helps when you need tactile feedback from your pen. And it has all the features of the previous Wacom models, but with better manufacturing. The only downside we see here is that the screen isn’t an actual touchscreen; you won’t be able to interact with it if you’re not using the stylus pen.
– Best manufacturing quality out of Wacom
– Matte finish
– Not usable without a pen
– Around $400 price tag
6) Wacom Bamboo Pen Tablet
The Wacom Bamboo Pen Tablet is a model for people who find the biggest downside of the One model to be a dealbreaker; with this pen tablet, you can also use your fingers to achieve the desired effect. This is something most of the lower-grade graphics tablets can’t do; especially in this price range, so this is definitely a game-changer.
While the touchscreen feature is useful for obvious reasons, it does bring its share of downsides. Namely, the fact that the working area is large if we consider traditional touchscreen tablets; but somewhat lacking compared to other pen tablets on this list. Also, the pen’s sensitivity is decent but worse than other pen-only models from Wacom.
– Touchscreen capabilities
– Small screen size
7) Microsoft Surface Pro 4 – Best High-end Choice
The last choice on our list is definitely the most expensive one, but it certainly counts among the best pen tablets for online teaching in 2021. Now, the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 is the company’s flagship tablet product and one that basically tries to do it all. This tablet can serve as a low-range laptop as well; though it’s quite useful as a pen tablet as well.
Of course, the main issue with the Microsoft Surface Pro models is that they try to do everything and achieve moderate results in all fields as a consequence. It’s not the most precise pen tablet on this list, but it is the most versatile.
– Can serve as a tablet and a laptop
– Windows OS
– Less precise than some models
8) XP-Pen StarG640
If you want a tablet that’s incredibly sensitive and responsive, and thus perfect for quick drawing with children online during your lessons, the XP-Pen StarG640 is certainly one of the better models that you can choose from. It gives you a lot of compatibility with a wide variety of editing and drawing software, as well as any online teaching platforms that you may want to use.
Perhaps most importantly for ease of use during lessons, the pen is pretty much usable straight out of the box and will require pretty much no fiddling with sensitivity settings. However, we do have to mention that a lack of shortcut keys may represent an issue for more advanced users who also want to use this tablet for things other than online teaching; such as more advanced graphic design.
Still, there is plenty to like about this tablet. For one, its stylus doesn’t require any batteries, so you won’t have to think about its power levels. And while the low-to-medium settings regarding sensitivity are set as default when you first plug it in, you can change this in the appropriate menu.
You’ll find that the XP-Pen G640 is incredibly smooth; to the point where it may take some getting used to compared to other tablets for online teaching that you might have used before. However, the sensitivity dial has options that allow you to regulate the pen’s pressure across more than 8000 levels.
At the end of the day, we’re talking about an intuitive pen tablet that has a great stylus, battery-free design, and precise responsiveness. The only issue is the lack of shortcut keys.
– Extremely high responsiveness
– Easy to set up
– Lack of shortcut keys
9) XP-Pen Deco 01 V2
Our next pick comes from XP-Pen as well, the Deco 01 V2 pen tablet! If you’re looking for a device that provides the optimal combination of price, accuracy, and dimensions, this product will definitely serve you well.
First, we should point out that it comes with a writing area that’s quite huge, 10 by 6.25 inches! Compared to the likes of the Wacom Intuos, that’s practically double the size. Also, the design of the stylus was definitely well-thought-out, with two physical buttons, which easily let you switch between eraser mode and pen mode.
If you were annoyed about the lack of shortcut buttons on the previous XP-Pen tablet; this one contains a large number of easily programmable shortcut buttons. Plus, it’s compatible with Android, Apple, and Windows devices, meaning that it’s one of the most versatile models we’ve reviewed here.
Indeed, one of the only gripes we have with the tablet is that its level of responsiveness isn’t as great as with some of the other models that we’ve reviewed; including those from XP-Pen. But still, seeing as it’s affordable and not in the premium range, there has to be some sort of tradeoff for that large writing area!
– Large writing area
– A lower level of responsiveness
10) Huion Inspiroy Dial Q620M
If you’re looking to make a sizable investment into your pen tablet for online teaching in 2021, you won’t have to go much farther than the Huion Inspiroy Dial Q620M. This is one of the most expensive and premium-level tablets that Huion has produced, and it certainly makes its pricing worthwhile, thanks to a remarkable set of features.
For starters, lovers of great design will appreciate the sleek minimalism that this product offers; coupled with amazing functionality. Not only does it have a large writing area (bigger than the XP-Pen Deco), but it’s also built quite robustly, with durability clearly visible in the minds of the designers.
The left side of the tablet offers 8 fully programmable buttons, which you can easily use to program any sort of function that you want to have a shortcut to. However, the primary design feature that attracts people to this pen tablet is the extremely handy rotating dial. You can use it for all kinds of functions, from volume control to changing brush sizes; this dial is just as programmable as the buttons.
And when you’re teaching a time-limited class that you want to make the most of, not having to waste time with menus and fiddly buttons is something you may be willing to pay a premium price for!
– Programmable shortcut buttons
– Programmable dial
– Premium price
How to pick the perfect pen tablet
Picking the perfect pen tablet is not as easy as it sounds, even though you clearly have a lot of different options at your disposal. There are plenty of different factors to take into account, from your experience level and budget, to your personal priorities.
If you’ve just started using a drawing tablet, you don’t have to go for anything fancy. For example, we don’t recommend buying a display tablet right away, as you can see from our list. Most teachers don’t really need these, and they’re quite expensive.
Instead, a non-display model will be able to get you where you need to go without forcing you to spend a ton of money. You should definitely think about your priorities, and in this case, the main one is having a tablet that allows you to create high-resolution drawings. In order to achieve that, you don’t actually want the most expensive models with the assorted bells and whistles, at least not in the beginning.
You should think about the most important tool that you’ll be using, and that’s your stylus. It needs to be as comfortable as possible, seeing as you’ll probably be using it for a long time. Also, its pressure sensitivity has to be good, 1024 at the minimum. Of course, having some ease-of-use buttons for quicker control is always a welcome addition, but not a necessary one.
Apart from this, there are some more features that certainly make online teaching easier with a tablet, such as tilt recognition in your stylus, which allows for even more precise work. Also, one of the most crucial features that you should think about is the drawing surface that you have available, obviously, the bigger the better.
Naturally, once you become even more comfortable with using a non-display pen tablet, you may want to upgrade to one that has a display built-in; that’s great for situations where you’ll be traveling a lot, on top of being even better for your job. There are plenty of XP-Pen models to look at. Of course, there’s no single right answer for everyone, and you need to think about the model you want carefully.
Can I use different pens for the tablet?
It depends on the specific tablet, and the specific model of the stylus. These days, there are two kinds of touch screens on tablets, the resistive touch screen, and the capacitive touch screen. The latter are the touch screens found in phones and in smart tablets. They function based on the electrical conductivity of the human body, so you can’t use them with a resistance-based pen.
And vice versa, you can’t use styluses designed for smartphones with drawing tablets; they just don’t function with the same technology. As for different drawing tablets, you will need to check whether the tablet is compatible with the particular stylus, as not all drawing tablets and all drawing pens are mutually compatible.
What’s the difference between a graphic tablet and a drawing tablet?
There’s a number of differences, but the most crucial and apparent one is the fact that one of these has their own screen, while the other depends on external screens. With a drawing tablet, you get a screen which depicts your work in real time as you draw it, while graphics tablets require a computer, to which you hook them up and see the results on the computer screen.
The latter also uses graphic software found on the external computer, mostly for vector and raster graphics.
Now that we’ve taken a look at enough models, which are the best pen tablets for online teaching in 2021? If you’ve got the money to spare and want to get a low-range laptop on the same device, the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 is not a bad option. However, among dedicated pen tablets, we’d have to say that the Wacom One is the best choice.
awesome info..new teacher here..thanks for this.
I have a XP-Pen graphic tablet. I downloaded a whiteboard app and my life is so much easier. I use it to make my math videos mostly, but it has also been useful in drawing summary pictures for reading, underlining information in articles during video meets, and other things.
This article was excellent and useful. Thank you very much.
Very helpful. I am an online teacher and I am considering buying the most affordable yet usefuful for my needs. My main purpose is to use for correcting my students’ writing activities (using check marks and encircling words, etc.)